Friday, 18 February 2011

Church & the new social media

Let me start this post by saying the new social media isn’t that new – facebook has been with us since 2004 and twitter in 2006.  However to the church and specifically to many church leaders, esp. in the UK it is ‘new’. It’s not new because they haven’t heard about it, and some even have facebook accounts, it’s new because the reality of it as a real social and community environment is just becoming clear.  I must admit until the middle of last year I had the similar take it or leave it view.

Anyway this post was inspired by a talk I recently gave to some church leaders.  In the talk I covered the subjects of websites, facebook, twitter & blogs.  So I will touch on these areas briefly in this post (sorry it is longer than normal but I hope you think it's worth it).

What are they for? For a church they are methods of communication, they hold information, store preaches, give you links to other ministries and can even have member areas that can have detailed info on church, ministry and people. However, I believe their primary function is to tell non-church members all about the church. They are your online brochure. Anything else is a bonus!

They need to look good and hold the key information - where you meet, when you meet, how to get there, how to contact you and what is going on (events\activities). They must NOT look outdated or messy (if they haven’t been redesigned in 3 years they are out of date). One big no, no is out of date information - one church website I checked in Jan 2011 had one event on its calendar, a carol concert which took place in Dec 2009! 

First some statistics:
         50% of active users log on daily
         Average active user spends > 55 mins on facebook per day
         48% of 18-34 year olds check facebook as soon as they wake up
         57% of people talk to people more online than they do in real life
         The 35+ demographic now makes up more than 30% of facebook
         Women aged 35-50 rate facebook as their number 1 social activity

This can be scary OR we can see this as an opportunity.  First of we need to understand two things
1. You don’t get a vote on this
2. You can’t stop or change this
Facebook and social media is here to stay, it is a reality and it is a real community.

How can facebook be used for the kingdom? By speaking into peoples lives & by living your life more publically. Check out this excellent article why every church leader should be on facebook by By David Tonen 

As you use facebook not just to comment on others peoples lives (see the article above), but also to put details of your life then people will watch and see something of who you are.  This will add to your credibility and authenticity (and people may even think you are cool!).

The great thing about facebook is you don’t have to respond instantly and you can plan what you are going to share. A busy church leaders diary and subsequent facebook entries could look like this:

Day Main activity Facebook updates
Monday Day off Write about what you are going to do and/or what you did (incl. a photo)
Tuesday Staff meetings Post what you are discussing, ask for input/prayer
Tell people about the staff prayer meeting, what can you pray for or what did you pray for
Wednesday Pastoral mtgs & Sermon prep Tell people who you are / who you did meet up with today (send that person an encouraging msg)
Tell people what you are going to preach on, ask for ideas/input
Thursday Regional leaders mtg Tell people where you are going / what the mtg was about / what is going on in other churches
Friday Preach prep Tell people how the preach is going, ask people to pray, give people a taster
Saturday Events \ Family time Tell people what your Saturday day / night is looking like
Sunday Sunday mtg Talk about some aspect of the meeting
Ask for feedback on your preach

On top of this list there is the stuff of life (family, cars, sport, news, pets, tv etc.) you can write about.

Put your church on facebook
Create a facebook page for your church where you can share about all the stuff that is going on in the church, in your town, the nation and the world that it would be good for your church to know about and get involved in.  Check out our church facebook page for (I hope) a good example.

Twitter is not very prelevant in the UK outside of cities and celebrities. It is a way for a person, group or organisation to share what they are doing, thinking etc. and to be able to follow what others are doing? Essentially people use Twitter to follow people and things that shape and influence their lives
So in your church which is the only person who should legitimately have a twitter account?  The answer has to be the lead pastor.  If that person isn’t using facebook regularly then do that first before embarking on using Twitter

Why blog? It gives you a chance to write or say something that can teach, influence or engage people. A blog gives you the vehicle to disciple your whole congregation.
Key things to ensure your blog is successful
         Make sure you know what you are aiming to do:
        A blog about a particular angle on life (leadership, bible, etc.) or a general view on life
         Make sure the content is good. What is good content?
         It reads well – make sure you have a good person to critique your work
         It is edited well
         It isn’t too long – unless its really good!
         Make sure you post consistently. Decide how often you are going to post and stick to this (remember you can prep your blog posts in advance)
         Publicise your blog – how will they know if they are not told!
         Always comment/reply to comments and interactions
         Keep going

Ultimately we are doing this to help in our mission to make disciples, be real, have fun and enjoy the journey.


  1. Great information Steven. I did a "Social Media for Pastors and Church Planters" webinar last week that covered some of the same stuff. I have slides, video, and resources posted here for those who might be interested:

  2. Thanks Paul, I have read through the PDF of your talk its really good. I will pass this link on, many thanks.